Restaurant dining rooms in Massachusetts reopened on Monday (June 22), after being shuttered for three months.
Gov. Charlie Baker said that Phase II of the Bay State’s four-phase reopening plan allows eateries to serve meals indoors under strict guidelines.
“We are making the progress we’re making because of the actions that people here in Massachusetts are taking every day,” Baker said at his daily press conference on Friday (June 19).
Among the regulations: Tables must be at least six feet apart, closer if separated by barriers; the size of a party seated cannot exceed six; and patrons are not allowed at the bar. Restaurant capacities have not been limited.
Any amenities other than food and beverage service, such as dance floors, pool tables or play areas, must remain closed.
Servers must wash their hands or apply hand sanitizer between each table interaction. Reservations are encouraged to help prevent the congregation of diners waiting for tables.
Massachusetts, which has had the country’s third most deaths due to COVID-19 after New York and New Jersey, is the last state in New England to allow indoor dining to resume. The Department of Public Health reported on Sunday (June 21) that there are 107,061 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, including 7,858 deaths.
Earlier this month, PYMNTS reported that outdoor dining was permitted in the state. Boston’s licensing board had fast-tracked more than 200 permits, including many in Boston’s North End neighborhood. Mayor Martin J. Walsh said the city had received 500 applications from restaurants and cafes to allow outdoor dining.
In The Great Reopening, PYMNTS found that consumers’ attitudes about the COVID-19 pandemic varied by circumstances. Some employees who had been working remotely are eager to get out of the house, while others were still so worried about the risk of contagion that they had not gone grocery shopping.
In May, a PYMNTS survey revealed that U.S. consumers were more interested in returning to activities. The study found 36 percent of respondents were “very” or “extremely interested” in going back out, compared to 28.5 percent who said the same on April 27.
In the June issue of the Order To Eat Tracker, PYMNTS found that after restaurants reopen, just 51 percent of consumers plan to dine out as much as they did before the pandemic, while 26 percent plan to do so less frequently than before.